The Business of Business and the Sound of Silence

In all the years that I taught moral philosophy, I never once taught business ethics. Truth to be told, I went out of my way to avoid it. Given an opportunity to teach classes in the MBA program at my university, which reimbursed at a higher rate than the School of Arts & Sciences, I turned it down. The very idea of business bored me to tears. The idea of teaching it seemed tedious beyond tears. A couple hundred dollars here or there weren’t going to compensate for the waste of time and brain power involved in teaching such a dumb-ass class. So I bagged it. Continue reading

American Witch

This is a journey meant for your anxiety.
–Rob Zombie, “American Witch

I don’t know whether to say this is a story “straight out of the Jersey suburbs,” or “straight out of a Rob Zombie song,” but I guess those aren’t mutually exclusive: the Jersey suburbs are something out of a Rob Zombie song.

When Bobbi Wilson, 9, took it upon herself to spend hours of her summer aiming to obliterate the invasive spotted lanternflies that were ravaging her northern New Jersey community, she did not expect much attention. She just wanted to help.

She went out to the streets of her neighborhood in Caldwell, N.J., armed with a container with a mix of dish soap and water — a recipe to disarm the bugs that she found on TikTok, and enhanced by adding apple cider vinegar. She was determined to get as many of the insects as she could.

But her one-girl extermination campaign got her reported to the police about three months after it started, when a neighbor complained about a “little Black woman, walking and spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees” a few houses from the girl’s home on Oct. 22, according to a recording of the call obtained by CNN.

Make sure you click on the CNN link for that video: priceless. “There’s a little black woman, walkin’ and sprayin’ stuff on the sidewalks and trees, on Elizabeth and Florence. I don’t know what the hell she’s doin’. Scares me, though. Real tiny. She’s got a hood on.” Continue reading

Blasphemy and the Polity of Our Prayers

The last time I was in Pakistan, back in January of 2012, my cousin Sa’ad threw me a big, lavish party the evening before my departure. I have a very large extended family, much of it based in Lahore, and just about everyone from Lahore, it seemed, was there–aunts, uncles, first cousins, first cousins once removed, first cousins twice removed, spouses of cousins, and all other manner of kith and kin. My cousin Sa’ad and his brother Salman are major players in the Pakistani political establishment, part of the government at the time, but allied with Nawaz Sharif, then out of power as Prime Minister.* Many of my other cousins are political activists of one sort or another, not always friendly to governments in power. It makes for interesting dinner conversation, and it certainly did that particular night. Continue reading

Jenin: Collating the Wages of Death

The steady habit of correcting and completing his own opinion by collating it with those of others, so far from causing doubt and hesitation in carrying it into practice, is the only stable foundation for a just reliance on it: for being cognisant of all that can, at least obviously, be said against him, and having taken up his position against all gainsayers…he has a right to think his judgment better than that of any person, or any multitude, who have not gone through a similar process.

–J.S. Mill, On Liberty

In my last two posts, I’ve been discussing the rising tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Events are taking place too quickly for me literally to blog them as they happen, so if you’re after a real-time chronicle, or event-by-event commentary, you’ll be disappointed. That’s not something you’ll find here, at least in my posts. Continue reading

Jenin Under Attack

I’ve been receiving videos from Palestinian friends, of Israeli military actions taking place, not just in Jenin, but across the length and breadth of the West Bank. I so far have seen no indication from the mainstream American press that Israeli military occupations have extended beyond Jenin. But while nine Palestinians were killed in Jenin, one was killed in Ar-Ram (so Israeli military actions are obviously not confined to Jenin). Since then, there have been two widely-reported Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets as well, one in the settlement of Neve Yaakov, the other in a location that The New York Times vaguely describes as being “near a settlement in East Jerusalem.” Continue reading

“A” Is for Occupation

In a post I wrote back in 2020 explaining the A-B-C system that structures the Israeli occupation of Palestine, I described Area A, the area supposedly under Palestinian control, as follows: 

Area A covers Palestinian urban centers, supposedly under full Palestinian control, both “civil” and “security” related…Area A is under “full” Palestinian control–except when Israeli military forces enter such an Area, as they often do, in which case “full” control becomes non-control for the duration.

Current events in Jenin illustrate this. Jenin is squarely in Area A. Area A is under full Palestinian control. But at the moment, Jenin is precisely not under Palestinian control. Apparently, some control is fuller than others.  Continue reading

Facing the Whirlwind (1)

Revisiting the Book of Job: Introduction

As many of you by now know, and are no doubt sick of hearing, my wife Alison killed herself two years ago, in March 2021. The day after I heard, I decided, like a character in a Saul Bellow novel, to cope with what happened by reading the Book of Job. The day after that, less like a fictional character than my usual deranged self, I decided to blog my thoughts on Job in full consciousness (and willful defiance) of the fact that if “too soon” has any meaning, surely 48 hours after your wife’s death by suicide is it. Continue reading

Fourth Time’s the Charm

Newport News School Was Warned 3 Times That 6-Year-Old Had a Gun, Lawyer Says,” The New York Times, Jan. 25, 2023.

Around 1 p.m. — about an hour before the shooting — another teacher reported that a student had come to the teacher crying, saying that the 6-year-old had shown him the gun at recess and threatened to shoot the student if the student told anyone, Ms. Toscano said.

“What did administrators do?” Ms. Toscano said at a news conference on Wednesday, where she announced plans to file the lawsuit. “Did administrators call the police? No. Did administrators lock down the school? No. Did administrators evacuate the building? No. Did they confront the student? No.”

Would anyone but an upper-level administrator summarily have been fired weeks ago? Yes.

Tell Me When It’s Over

Ticketmaster Cast as a Powerful ‘Monopoly’ at Senate Hearing, The New York Times, Jan. 24, 2023.

Mr. Berchtold largely attributed Ticketmaster’s failings to an assault from online bots: automated programs, run by scalpers, that seek to snatch up tickets before they ever make their way to consumers. That drew a largely skeptical response from the senators.

“This is unbelievable,” Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, said, with more than a hint of anger in her voice. “Why is it,” she added, “that you have not developed an algorithm to sort out what is a bot and what is a consumer?”

Why is it that Congress hasn’t developed an algorithm to distinguish a monopoly from a market leader? Wouldn’t that be just as easy, and just as useful?